Google opens two more accelerators to Canadian startups as remote becomes the new reality

Google has opened up two more accelerators to Canadian startups as the new remote reality makes it easier to offer the programs across North America.

The tech giant is launching an entirely new accelerator available to Canadian startups and has opened availability to Canadians for another of its accelerator programs. This brings Google’s total number of accelerator programs for Canadian startups and founders to four after it launched two Canadian-focused accelerators last year.

“The pivot to virtual really has expedited our ability to expand on programming to drive synergies across markets.”

The four accelerators open to Canadian founders is a significant increase from two years ago when Google had no such Canadian-specific programs.

In addition to the new programs, Google is also accepting applications for the second cohorts of its existing Canadian accelerators.
 

The new and renewed programs indicate Google’s intent to tap more into the Canadian startup ecosystem. In 2020, Google announced plans to expand and open three offices across Canada – in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Montreal – with a commitment to hire around 3,500 new employees.

Speaking with BetaKit recently, Ashley Francisco, the Canada startup ecosystem lead at Google, affirmed these latest accelerator renewals and launches are part of the company’s desire to increase its presence in Canada.

“To go from no accelerators in Canada in 2019 to two program offerings in 2020 and four in 2021 is, hopefully, a nod to what Canadian founders can expect to see in the future,” she said.

Francisco confirmed all four of the accelerator programs available to Canadian startups will run virtually, noting that Google saw its accelerator applications “immediately double” after pivoting to a virtual format.

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“The pivot to virtual really has expedited our ability to expand on programming to drive synergies across markets with programming that was already planned. All of that … is working in service of offering more to the ecosystem at large,” Francisco added.

Google is starting a new accelerator: Voice AI, which is available to startups across North America. The program is designed to bring Google’s programs, products, people, and technology to voice technology companies across North America.

In addition to mentorship and technical project support, the Voice AI accelerator will focus on product design, customer acquisition, and leadership development for founders. Voice AI will run from March to May.

Google is also making its Black Founders program available to Canadians. Launched last year, in 2021 this program will be open for Canadian and US startups. Selected founders are asked to outline the top technical challenges facing their startup, and are then paired with relevant experts from Google to help solve those challenges. The program will run from August to October.

In addition to launching these two programs in Canada, the Google Canada Accelerator, which is a three-month program for seed to Series A startups that launched last year, is currently accepting applications for its second cohort. The Canadian Google for Startups accelerator represented the Silicon Valley company’s first accelerator in Canada and the 12th globally. The second year of the program will run from April to June.

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Francisco noted that similar to last year, Google plans to keep this accelerator vertical-agnostic, but pointed to interesting developments for Google in the last year that may inform the cohort, specifically in cloud computing and Google’s acquisition of smart glasses developer North.

Google’s Women Founders accelerator program, which was also created last year and is available to founders in both Canada and the United States, is commencing its second cohort in September. This three-month program is targeted toward women-led startups and will run through to November.

Last year’s Women Founders cohort included five Canadian startups, such as Saskatoon-based Coconut Software, Calgary-based Livestock Water Recycling, and My Intelligent Machines (MIMs) from Montreal.

In addition to initiatives focused on Canadian talent, Google Canada has also financially supported a number of ecosystem players in the country. Artificial intelligence (AI) institute MILA received a nearly $4 million investment from Google in November and Google provided a $1 million investment to Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE initiative, which later rebranded to ShopHEREhere powered by Google.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.